Farm Fresh Meat: Better for You and Your Wallet!

| 2/19/2012 11:46:23 PM

Tags: fresh meat, pork, slaughterhouse fees, beef, lamb, buying local, healthy food, Suzanne Cox,

Suzanne HeadshotOur modern culture revolves around convenience and speed. Where families used to sit around a table together and eat a homemade meal Mom spent all evening cooking, McDonalds drive through or Pizza Hut delivery on the couch in front of the television seem the norm now. However, a growing sect of the American public are now seeing the value and importance of farm fresh foods. Farmers markets, specialty grocers, and produce stands are gaining in popularity and profit as more and more people seek a higher quality of life and health.

This trend has widely been reported on the news, in newspapers, and in magazines. While people argue over the value and wording of organic vs. natural or high fructose corn syrup vs. cane sugar, there is one large area that seems to be overlooked. That is farm raised meats purchased on the hoof, and processed locally. It seems that unless you are a chicken, the media and general public don’t pay much attention to you. Chickens have had their share of the spotlight lately. Between the cage free vs. free range debate and backyard chicken petitions in suburbs, other sources of meat have simply been ignored. While buying fresh produce and healthier eggs are important, I think we should look further into why the public shouldn’t just stop there in their quest for a healthier diet.

The majority of American meat comes from just four meatpacking firms in the United States. Together, they controlled 85% of the market in 2008. These operations can process up to 300 to 400 cattle in one hour. This means when you purchase a pound of hamburger meat at your local grocery store chain, you may actually be consuming a little bit of this cow, and a few bites of that one. So what is the problem with that? This makes it nearly impossible to track down a source of sickness when outbreaks occur. Usually by the time a source can be tracked, the rest of the tainted meat has already been purchased and consumed. Not only that, but one Friday night hamburger grilling may use meat from cattle in several different countries. Many of which do not have the same quality standards as we do.

Americans love meat. We consume more meat per person than any other nation in the world. To meet this great demand, commercial agriculture has developed methods for growing large amounts of meat in a very short time. There are over 15,500 Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO’s) in the United States. According to the EPA, these operations practice "a production process that concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined places, and that substitutes structures and equipment (for feeding, temperature controls, and manure management) for land and labor.” By definition, animals in these operations are raised in areas that do not produce vegetation. There may be over 1,000 cow and calf pairs, 10,000 young pigs, or 2,500 large hogs. Imagine that, so many animals in a very tight space without EVER seeing one trace of vegetation. No grass, no hay. Just commercially developed feeds whose sole purpose is to grow things quickly. These feeds contain cocktails of chemicals to promote growth, antibiotics to prevent sickness (not treat it), and hormones that increase milk production in dairy cattle or speed growth in hogs, steers and poultry. It’s no wonder our children are reaching puberty at an early age, bacterial infections are becoming immune to antibiotics, and cancer rates are soaring. You are what you eat, and we are eating a lot of garbage!

Hog CAFO. Wikipedia photo.

CAFO Pigs 

suzanne cox
5/16/2012 5:00:49 AM

Thank you Joshua! And congratulations on both your baby, and your new healthier lifestyle. Here in America we have such an easily obtainable supply of "junk" called food, it's scary! There is a price to pay for convenience, and I believe we are now paying that price by way of disease, obesity, and disabilities. We hope you continue to enjoy our blogs, and look forward to more of your comments!

ermintrude cow
3/22/2012 2:25:43 PM

Thank you for your support of Home Grown Cow, the US family farmer, and cheaper, healthier farm direct foods. We believe people simply are not aware of all of the benefits of buying directly from a farmer. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

joshua barmore
3/12/2012 1:52:13 PM

Great blog! My wife and I have been getting more and more weened off the commerical junk from the grocery store every month. My kids health means more to me than most things in my life. We became very aware of all the junk in food when our baby girl was born with 2 holes in her heart. We have spent many a hour in the heart doctors office and they warned us against letting our kids eat junk from fast food places. We have made a extreme effort to eat more pure foods and I am glad to say we have not bought hamburger from the store in almost a year. We eat alot of deer meat and organic chicken.Plus hamburger is $3.89 a pound here at Wal Mart. Thanks again for the great blog.

suzanne cox
3/7/2012 4:11:40 AM

Dave there is a similar operation close to where my parents live. They raise the cattle, have a slaughtered and packaged, and then have a license to re-sale the smaller packs in a butcher store. Same concept of healthy farm raised meat, only smaller quantity. You do loose the wholesale pricing, but it is still a great deal cheaper than the grocery store on most things. The Home Grown Cow is a wonderful idea. You really should check it out, I don't think you will be disappointed!

suzanne cox
3/7/2012 4:09:09 AM

We're hoping to get some new fencing put up in the back and add some heritage cattle this fall. Can't decide which kind though? I'm wanting galloways or red polled, but Andrew really likes those highlands. I think they look like wooly mammoths. LOL. We'll just have to do a little more research on the breeds and find our perfect match. But yes, farm fresh beef is definitely on the agenda for the future! Where the pork is concerned, everyone who has gotten pork from us has signed up for more next time. We were very pleased with the quality of the carcass, even if they were smaller than we thought! So I'm NOT a great pig weight guesser... I'm sure that will improve with time. Glad you are enjoying yours!

phillip whisnant
2/27/2012 4:02:12 PM

Suzanne, We loved the half of pork we purchased form you and Andrew. Not only was it lean and tasty but it was very tender as well. I'm already looking forward to the next one and hopefully you will have some beef to sell in the near future.

nebraska dave
2/21/2012 7:45:17 PM

Thanks for the information. I'll check it out.

ermintrude cow
2/21/2012 2:43:27 PM

Hi, Anyone can enjoy the benefits of tasty farm fresh meats regardless of how much beef or meat you eat. We found farmers listed on Home Grown Cow that sell individual cuts as well as bulkier quantities. Our family has been buying meat directly from farmers for nearly 10 years. Now with the Internet, you don't have to have a farmer in the family to get hooked on farm fresh.

nebraska dave
2/21/2012 2:18:15 PM

Suzanne, great warning post about what we are eating. My consumption of meat still comes from the store but it's much less that the national average. My meat is usually in something and is more for flavoring than just a chunk of meat to eat. Since my consumption is so low even a beef quarter would last me for years. When I did have a big freezer, it took so long to eat what was in there that it had to be pitched because of freezer burn. That kind of drives up the price per pound a lot. I'm talking about what works for me. I still think all that's in your post is good stuff and should be considered if you can. Have a great home grown beef day.

suzanne cox
2/21/2012 4:54:52 AM

Great to hear Cindy! Hope you enjoy your delivery. :) It really does taste so much better than store bought.

cindy murphy
2/21/2012 4:25:31 AM

Just got our yearly supply of red angus last week, raised, delivered to the house, and helped carried down the basement and loaded into the freezer by my part-time farmer friend (she's also an executive at a national company by day). Door-to-door delivery - can't beat that. Except of course, the taste - out of this world good.

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